Monthly Archives: August 2018

Arts and Family

Melanie has signed us up for pottery classes starting in late September. We will go with Verity and Ocean. I haven’t done any pottery for decades. I think we will have fun doing it as a family. Haifa, Verity and Ocean have been doing pottery lessons for a while and they created some really beautiful stuff. We will be going to The London Potters Guild facilities.

The London Potters Guild

664 Dundas St, London, ON N5W 2Y8

(519) 434-1664

Sabbatical Planning: Email and Slack

My sabbatical starts soon and before it starts, I have to make sure I have reasonable expectations and policies to handle my email and my engagement on Slack with my colleagues. I’ve had a few suggestions here and there, but I haven’t really finalized anything.  Currently, these two tools are used mostly as follows:


Currently, I use email mostly for communication outside my business.  In particular, I use it for notifications of various sorts (e.g. LinkedIn messages, admin system messages, etc.), hearing from vendors and partners (e.g. newsletters, technical announcements), arranging logistics such as meetings with clients or partners, occasionally for sending proposals (although mostly this is done by other people than me now), and that’s about it.


Slack is huge for our business.  I have seven private groups, twenty-five public groups (about half really active), and lots of direct messages too.  I’m “on” constantly and usually reply in minutes to anything relevant.  Sometimes I go longer.  Current uses of Slack are around all sorts of information-sharing, decision-making, polling, arguing, concerns, FYIs, social things, etc.  As a dis-located group, with only occasional in-person meetings, Slack covers a lot of ground for us!

My Question

So, what would you recommend?  How should I get prepared to handle email and Slack during my year-long sabbatical?

In Other News

Next week I have brief interviews with the two professors at Western in whose classes I will be starting in September.  I’m looking forward to meeting them and discussing my concerns and abilities for starting back in school in a challenging field such as mathematics.

Sabbatical Countdown T-30 Days

I recently finished catching myself up on my basic differential and integral calculus.  I actually think I understand it better now than I did when I took calculus in high school and in university.  I may be fooling myself 🙂  I finished reading and doing many exercises in Quick Calculus 2nd Ed. and I can highly recommend it for anyone who wants to brush up on their calculus.  It’s fast-paced, focuses on core concepts and techniques, covers both theory and application, and does it all in a slim easy-to-consume volume.  Of course, it doesn’t have the depth of something like Stewart’s Calculus which is a common textbook, and I’m peeking into that too, but it satisfies the requirements of getting back up to speed after a time away.  I’m also continuing to use Khan Academy for further practice and depth, and will continue to do so probably throughout at least my first term back in school.

I’m also just at the start of brushing up on linear algebra, which I have very little interest in.  I kinda have to force myself.  I’ve got an old textbook called Linear Algebra with Applications.  I also downloaded two linear algebra texts onto my iPhone, and I’ve still got a bunch of Khan Academy units to do… but I have to push myself harder because of my lack of interest.  It’s not that I don’t see the applications… I do… it’s just that linear algebra has so many numbers!!!

That’s not a contradiction: I love mathematics, but I’m not a big fan of numerical manipulation (calculation).  The difference is that mathematics is about seeing relationships, structures and concepts whereas calculation is simply about getting formulaic answers from numerical data.  Calculation is boring to me (usually) because it doesn’t represent an intellectual challenge.  As a result, I hate doing bookkeeping.  On the other hand, I love designing complicated spreadsheets.  And, back to mathematics, I like doing proofs and other activities that represent problem-solving and discovery.  I love learning about cool relationships between mathematical structures and concepts.  And the numbers don’t matter except incidentally.